Big Star Chef Injured in Hit-and-Run Grateful to Good Samaritan, Co-workers

By Alisa Hauser on April 19, 2013 6:45am 

 Joseph Gleeson, 31, a sous chef at Wicker Park's Big Star, was injured in a hit-and-run accident April 4. Co-workers are hosting a benefit April 28 at The Charleston to help pay for Gleeson's medical expenses.
Joseph Gleeson, 31, a sous chef at Wicker Park's Big Star, was injured in a hit-and-run accident April 4. Co-workers are hosting a benefit April 28 at The Charleston to help pay for Gleeson's medical expenses.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

BUCKTOWN —  Joseph Gleeson doesn't remember much about the night of April 4, when he was hit by a car while cycling on Milwaukee Avenue.

He remembers his bike careening into a parked car, taking off a side mirror, and "waking up in the gutter." He also remembers being taken to Stroger Hospital by "a nice Russian man named Stan."

The accident injured his "cooking hand," an essential tool for the 31-year-old sous chef at Wicker Park's Big Star, whose co-workers are hosting a benefit in Bucktown to pay for his medical expenses.

"I didn't think I needed to go to the hospital, but Stan said in a Russian accent, 'Your hand looks very peculiar,'" Gleeson said.

Gleeson said he looked down to see his thumb dangling from his wrist and spent most of the night in the emergency room, where it turned out he'd broken his right wrist and thumb.

Gleeson hasn't seen or heard from Stan since, nor does he know the Good Samaritan's last name, but said he's very "blessed" to have been helped by the stranger as well as his co-workers, who organized the April 28 benefit for him at The Charleston.

"I don't like being the center of attention. That's why I work in the kitchen. But words can't describe how amazing everyone has been," Gleeson said.

Gleeson, who's originally from Los Angeles and lives in West Town, added: "It's only my second job in Chicago and I haven't lived here that long. It feels nice to have a community looking after you."

Gosia Koblanska, Big Star's manager, said Thursday that there's been a great response from neighborhood business owners that are donating items to a raffle for Gleeson.

Retailers City Soles, Reckless Records and numerous restaurants including those owned by Big Star's parent company such as Avec and Publican Quality Meats have donated gift certificates, brunches and food platters, while Stephanie Izard, owner of The Girl and the Goat (and Gleeson's former employer), offered a Chef's Table dinner.

A turntable from Decibel Audio and two paintings by local tattoo artist Nick Colella are among the silent auction items, Koblanska said.

The "Benefit for Joseph" is 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. April 28 at The Charleston Bar, 2076 N. Hoyne Ave. in Bucktown. All proceeds will go toward Gleeson's medical expenses.

The evening will include music from four DJs, drinks, a raffle and silent auction.

A $5 door donation will give each attendee one drink and an opportunity to win a raffle prize, Koblanska said.

As for Stan, the Good Samaritan, Gleeson said he invited him to Big Star.

"I told him to come by anytime. He can eat on me," Gleeson said.

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